Sunday, July 14, 2013


In the early days of Arizona, the small town mercantile store handled every thing that the numerous saloons, the livery stable, the blacksmith shop and the hotel with its cafe did not provide.

In other words they dealt in every thing from “soup to nuts” as we say in America. They would also order from catalogs for people if they didn’t carry the requested item.  

I found a couple photos on the internet that are typical of what they might have looked like, except I doubt if the inside of the originals was a neat or colorful as the photo.

Enjoy this bit of history…………



The mercantile was a quite a community affair
Most everything could be bought or sold there

The center of activity, the store often became
With the owner greeting all by their first name

Locals could barter their homegrown produce
For store-bought goodies for which they had use

A lasting bond of trust was often made
Any “tab” that was kept usually got paid

But if times got tough, C.O.B.H. was employed
An alternative to credit, which often got destroyed

A “C.O.B.H.” sign was hung boldly in plain view
To make sure that everyone entering the store knew

You buy, you pay today is what the sign really said
C.O.B.H.! . . . . .  "Cash on the Barrel Head”


There are a number of so-called mercantile store currently in the greater Phoenix area, but for the most part, they have evolved into museums, antique stores and gift/novelty stores catering to the tourist trade.


Here’s a photo of a modern day mercantile/hotel in Tombstone, AZ (Search mercantile in Tombstone, AZ for details)


  1. Herm, I remember visiting one of these mercantile turned museums. I can't remember where now (probably Tombstone)... Thanks for reviving the word "mercantile" in my brain. It's part quincaillerie, part bazaar, part droguerie (in French) -- with a supermarket thrown in! P.S. Enjoyed your updated photos in which you added color. P.P.S we see those "No Credit" signs here in France -- though you can still find little shops that will run a tab. So friendly!

  2. Hi, Kristin

    I was in a mercantile many years ago, but, like you, I can't remember where it was. Probably in southern Arizona or maybe in New Mexico. The closest thing we have today to that kind of store are the trading posts on some of the Indian reservations.